Apple today announced Family Setup in watchOS 7, bringing the communication, health, fitness and security features of the Apple Watch to children and elderly family members in the household who do not have an iPhone. For the first time, the Apple Watch can be set up via the parents’ iPhone, so that children can connect with family and friends through phone calls and messages, stay motivated with personal activity goals and express creativity through customized Memoji.
Family Setup allows the whole family to take advantage of the important health and safety features of the Apple Watch, such as Emergency SOS, while Maps, Siri, Alarms and the App Store provide greater independence without the need for an iPhone. In addition, parents want peace of mind knowing that they can reach their child and identify their location, and that all personal data remains securely encrypted. With watchOS 7, the whole family can also benefit from optimized features that enhance the overall Apple Watch experience.
“For family members who do not have an iPhone, the Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them stay in touch with loved ones, be more active and be safe,” said Apple CEO Jeff Williams in a statement. “With Family Setup, we are excited to expand these features to the whole family, so that everyone can have more independence and live a healthier life.”
With Family Setup, family members without an iPhone can take advantage of the many features and apps on the Apple Watch, from making and receiving phone and FaceTime audio calls, to sending and receiving messages and emails, and even connecting with other Apple Watch users over Walkie-Talkie. The new Memoji app on the Apple Watch lets users customize a Memoji that can be shared while sending messages to friends or displayed as a clock face. Parents have the ability to approve all contacts so that children can safely use the communication features of the Apple Watch.
Children and elderly family members in the household who use Family Setup, will have their own phone number through a separate mobile plan, and by using their own Apple ID they can follow their schedule and family events using Calendar, learn how to manage tasks with Reminders, see photo album synced from the guardian’s iPhone and more. With the new Apple Cash Family, parents can safely send their children their money to spend on their watch using Apple Pay. Parents can choose to receive notifications when their children pay, and see the child’s purchases directly in Wallet on their own iPhone.
Family members who use Family Setup on Apple Watch can play their favorite songs on Apple Music via Bluetooth headphones and speakers, and ask Siri for answers to questions or language translations. With Maps, family members can learn to navigate safely and independently, whether they’re going to another family member’s house or to a park with friends.
A family member’s location can be shared with parents via the Find People app on the Apple Watch, and location alerts are more customizable, allowing the guardian to receive an update on the family member’s location for an occasion, or on a recurring or time-based route.
The activity ring experience is optimized for children to track Move minutes instead of calorie burn and provide goals that can be adapted to the training and standings. Outdoor training, outdoor running and outdoor cycling are specially tuned for children, giving appropriate credit for Move minutes, training, distance and other calculations, while coaching alerts are tailored to relevant reading levels and are more fun with emoji. Kids can also send and receive activity sharing invitations live on Apple Watch, challenge friends with activity contests and see a new Awards page so milestones can be celebrated right on your wrist.
Health and safety
With Emergency SOS, family members who use Family Setup can easily access emergency services using the side button, and guardians will automatically be notified if they are listed as an emergency contact. Children can also refer to medical ID, which documents important information such as medical conditions, allergies and medications. With permission, parents can see a full overview of the family member’s health and activity through the Health app on the iPhone, and children and older adults can view their shared information via Settings on the Apple Watch.
Using the App Store on the Apple Watch, kids can download third-party apps directly to their device. Apps like ClassDojo, Coloring Watch and LookUp: English Dictionary can educate and encourage good habits, while Calm has child-specific attention experiences. With Family Setup, parents can manage what is available for download through content restrictions and Ask to purchase support.
School time and downtime
Family Setup provides a new mode called Schooltime, which will help children stay focused and attentive while learning at home or in the classroom. During school hours, a distinctive yellow circle appears on the dial for teachers and parents to easily recognize, meaning access to apps is restricted and Do Not Disturb is turned on. For convenience, parents can also set the schedule on the iPhone, so that the Apple Watch automatically enters school hours during certain hours, or turn it on from the Control Center on the child’s watch. To support responsible use of the device, the downtime feature is extended to the screen time of the Apple Watch, where the child receives a reminder five minutes before it begins.
Privacy is a fundamental human right and one of Apple’s core values. Apple believes that all personal data, including location, communications, fitness and health, should be securely encrypted on devices and in iCloud. Family Setup is carefully designed to ensure that parents and users control access to personal data.
Optimization for older adults
watchOS 7 also offers optimized features for older adults, adding the powerful set of health and safety tools available, including fall detection and irregular rhythm warning. The latest software makes the Apple Watch even easier to use and set up, starting with an updated X-Large face that shows the time and a rich complication in an instant, as well as an onboard boot and configuration process designed for connectivity and accessibility features. Activity goals can be customized to help users stay motivated, while the new health checklist in the Health app on the iPhone provides the ability to track whether health features such as fall detection are enabled in one central view.
Availability and activation
• Family Setup will be available on Wednesday, September 16th as a free software update and requires mobile models of Apple Watch Series 4 or later or Apple Watch SE running watchOS 7, paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14.
• Not all features will be available if Apple Watch is configured through Family Setup. A wireless service plan for mobile services is required. Contact your service provider for more information. Check apple.com/watch/cellular for participating wireless carriers and qualifications.
• To set up an Apple Watch with Family Setup, a new assistant guides users through the configuration steps on the iPhone. Family Setup requires family sharing and an Apple ID for the child or elderly family member in the household, and the mobile service enables all the features.
• Family Setup is subject to local operator support and will be available from 18 carriers in 12 countries and regions worldwide at launch.
Apple Watch supports 14 hours of daily use with Family Setup.